For every crack, a trained investigator should record, with photographs and sketches, the following information:
- Location on the building
- Pattern (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, eggshell)
- Width (uniform or tapered; if tapered note how)
- Depth (through paint, plaster, entire wall)
- Age (clean crack indicates new; coated with paint or dirt indicates old)
- Active (moving) or dormant
Based on this information, an investigator can assess the cause of the crack, how harmful the crack is, and how best to repair it, if repair is deemed necessary.
Examples of nonstructural cracks in concrete walls: Plastic settlement - reinforcing or arching, plastic shrinkage, early thermal contraction, long-term drying shrinkage, crazing, alkali-aggregate reactions. These cracks usually don't affect the structural integrity of the wall or lead to significant concrete deterioration.